For a non-governmental organisation reputation is among its most valuable assets. Despite the professionalism, transparency and legal compliance, a scandal in the media, a financial pitfall or a security incident can seriously affect the organisation’s reputation.
Reputation is a concept in the minds of stakeholders. War Child can influence it, but cannot control it. A public debate about the efficiency and accountability of other NGOs or the sector may easily harm public trust. The organisation’s reliability and credibility can be damaged for a longer period of time. Because of the democratisation of (mass) media, online and offline opinions, attitudes and facts are becoming more public, whether false or true. War Child chooses to participate in the debate with an open and transparent communication policy.
Managing reputational risks
War Child pays serious attention to safeguarding its reputation by monitoring stakeholder’s perceptions via annual quantitative research. The results are used to adjust either strategy or communication decisions. To guard against false statements about War Child, the organisation monitors publications in off-and online media. If appropriate, War Child actively engages in discussions or debates. Interviews and other articles are checked prior to publication.
If inaccuracies do get published, War Child will, where possible, ensure that the correct information is subsequently published. Other measures include:
- War Child’s child safety policy, which is also a tool to safeguard War Child’s reputation. All people who are involved in activities organised in the field and the Netherlands sign the code of conduct.
- Contractually ensuring that the mission and vision of corporate sponsors does not conflict with War Child’s mission and vision;
- Ensuring that all communications about results, are transparent, also mentioning failures and lessons learned.
Other developments can also take place internationally, beyond War Child’s control. A crisis team consisting of staff members from the programmes, human resources and communications departments meets every month and undertakes simulations to prepare for a range of likely scenarios. War Child’s field teams communicate actively and openly with local communities and authorities to be as transparent as possible.
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